A deadly blaze broke out at the all-girl’s Baraim Al-Watan school in Saudi Arabia’s coastal city of Jeddah early Saturday afternoon, leaving at least two teachers dead and 46 injured, although authorities fear the death toll could still rise.
As the fire ate its way through the three-storey building from an underground level, girls dangled themselves from windowsills on the top floor before dropping to the ground in a bid to save themselves from the flames.
As smoke billows from a third-storey window, girls can be seen dangling from the ledge before dropping to the ground below. Video posted on Youtube by sip0770.
According to media reports, emergency rescue teams managed to help evacuate more than 840 students and employees from the structure, which houses a pre-primary, primary and middle school.
The incident has triggered criticism of how emergency situations are dealt with in Saudi Arabia, and prompted several parents to demand improved safety standards for the country’s public and private schools.
According the Website Arab News, Fouad Al-Ahmadi, a young man who contributed to rescue efforts at the school, said he was shocked by the institution’s lack of preparedness.
"I could not find even an emergency exit sign in the building. I was horrified to learn later that the exits were bolted and blocked with chains. I also failed to see any fire extinguishers", Al-Ahmadi was quoted as saying.
However, a preliminary investigation into the fire has reportedly claimed that Baraim Al-Watan was up to par. The cause of the blaze is yet unknown.
A helicopter arrives to help rescue students and school employees still trapped in the school. Video posted on Youtube by zeepac.
Crowds gather to watch rescue efforts at Baraim Al-Watan girl’s school. Video posted on Youtube by ahmad86189.